Saturday, December 07, 2019

Cambridge Comprehensive

Recently, several new members have joined the department, and happened to ask me how everything worked. I had to disappoint them, in that the last person who knew that was Stephen Hawking and he'd sadly died just before they arrive. However, have now been here for 20 years, this time at least, I thought I would have a go at explaining stuff

People are classified as students or UFOs - students are initially manifold, until they expurgated, at which point they can become UFOs. UFOs become UTOs when they are established through ground truths. UTOs can also later become fellows, provided they pass the rigorous exam in Benevolent Dictation. This then qualifies them to say grace and hand out favours such as maundy money, and to hold hands as they walk on the college lawn.

Colleges are basically country houses with nice lawns and  staircases, which only UFOs and UTOs are allowed on. students have to make their way to and from the bars and bedders by way of the outside walls, often climbing up precarious ivy. Over the 8000 years of existence, students have evolved to have primitive wings, but when they become UFOs, they lose the feathers on the wings, and so make do with gowns instead, to cover up their shame.

Departments are a relatively new invention, and are basically knowledge stores, a bit like John Lewis, except that departments are never unknowingly undersold. Other fleeting Institutions such as the Sanger and the Turing have no salience whatsoever.

Colleges are basically country houses with nice lawns and  staircases, as described above - heads of houses dispense classes in benevolent dictation over port and salud.

The University is an act of collective illusion, and (like oxford) only exists in the minds of people who have read law. Tourists arriving at Cambridge station often ask for directions to the University, and as an act of kindness, are usually pointed to the busker outside Great St Mary's church, with the added explanation that this is the Bishop of Ely who is deemed to have progressed beyond all forms of dictation, so that now he is allowed to sing Bach's Aegrotat in the original Welsh.

I hope that this has helped.

Thursday, December 05, 2019


dani had been increasingly frustrated in his relationship, conversations always seemed to end up in arguments, and increasingly frequently, he would lose the argument. his partner seemed to anticipate what he would say, but then (deliberately?) misinterpret it. Even more online than in RL. he decided that it was time to do something about it.

being technically inclined, dani decided to tackle the challenge scientifically.
first of all, he had to understand how the arguments proceeded, so he started to record all the conversations via his smart phone, and then transcribe the speech to text.he then found some open source NLP software that could storify the text, extracting and abstracting the trending topics and the sense and sentiment in the speakers' utterances. then he thought, "why be too clever", why don't i just apply predictive text to the line of argument that I am taking, then invert the sense, and use text-to-speech to replace what I was going to say". indeed, he thought, why not automate both sides of the argument - he'd read about Generative Adversarial Networks in AI, and decided to build his own, dubbed Trouble and Strife (actor and critic).

The technology was a marvellous success, and arguments dissipated, evaporated before they even got going, life was wonderful again, harking back to the early days of their relationship.

then suddenly, out of the blue, he was served divorce papers by his partner's lawyer. and not just separation, but a demand for a massive amount of money that he had no idea he had.
It turned out that mani had known all along about the tech, and had built a massively successful business selling the software, initially to divorce lawyers, and later to barristers and judges, one of whom he ended up getting together with. Oh, and the audio recordings of mani, that dani's software had trained on initially? that was a mashup of snippets of alexa and siri arguing about which of them their owner was speaking to (although curiously, both voice assistants referred to "pet" rather than owner).

still, half of a lot of money is still a lot of money.

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home